Believe it or not, Will Smith has never been in
a rom-com throughout a decade-plus career as an actor. Therefore,
if nothing else, Hitch marks the first Will Smith appearance
in chick flick territory.
Smith, still playing to type, portrays Alex “Hitch”
Hitchens, a professional “date doctor.” To clarify (in
case anyone found the trailer misleading), Hitch doesn’t hook
people up for a quick fix. He’s more like a long-term dating
service for geeky, bumbling guys with whom he empathizes: Hitch
used to be just as pathetic as they are. While we never really see
the transition in his character, we do know that Hitch is good with
the ladies and brilliant at fixing up hopeless and desperate bachelors
with long-term relationships. The latest case concerns Albert Brennaman
(stand-up comedian and “The King Of Queens” sitcom star,
James), a junior accounting consultant who is smitten
with an heiress he works for, Allegra Cole (Valetta).
Allegra and her relationships provide frequent subject matter for
gossip columnist, Sara Melas (the future Mrs. Vile One, Mendes).
Coincidentally, Hitch has fallen for Sara and tries to woo her,
even though her charms make him as big of a spaz as the clients
Don’t be fooled. This is your typical romantic comedy, but
surprisingly, the film works despite its cheesy parts. James is
a great comic and physical performer and more than holds his own
against a superstar like Smith. Smith, despite playing the same
character he always portrays, fits well in the setting which plays
off his own personal brand of charisma. For a change, I was happy
to see a romantic comedy which is turned around. Instead of the
guy screwing up, doing the ridiculous thing, and having to repair
the broken relationship, in Hitch, Sara enacts such when
she tries to figure out who hooked up Allegra and Albert and falsely
expose Hitch’s profession. Y’see ladies, even you make
mistakes… sometimes… C’mon not all guys suck.
The strongest parts of the movie feature Smith and James, and James’s
“wooing” of Allegra. The not-so-strong parts feature
the relationship between Hitch and Sara. Those moments really are
the most derivative, kind of cheesy and unsubtle, yet Mendes and
Smith deserve credit for good performances and great range.
The supporting cast is strong and tolerable, especially in the
form of the adorable Valleta as Allegra and Adam Arkin
in a small role as Sara’s boss. There is a near-pornographic
(not XXX porn, guys) cameo of Michael Rapaport
fairly early—his only scene in the movie, where he does disappointingly
The story doesn’t take any chances, but the comic material
presented by writer, Kevin Bisch and director Andy
Tennant is fairly middle- to highbrow. Thankfully, there
are few, if any, references to bodily functions, fluids, and/or
parts—a refreshing change for entertainment. In the end, you
can do a lot worse than Hitch, especially for a date.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris